The Terrible Truth About Pessimism

by Kathy Shalhoub

Are you someone who always seems to have bad luck, failed projects and a pessimistic view on life?

Why do these things happen to you and not to others?

It’s because you’ve learned how to be helpless.

Martin Seligman, a PhD in psychology determined that the primary cause of learned helplessness is pessimism!

Do you know what the defining characteristics of the pessimist are?

Take two people who sustain the exact same hardships of life. The optimist will tend to believe that:

  • defeat is only a temporary setback,
  • this setback is a one-time occurrence confined to this one case,
  • circumstances, bad luck, or other people have brought it about.

The pessimist on the other hand, believes that:

  • bad events will last a long time,
  • bad luck undermine everything they do, and
  • all unfortunate or unwelcome occurrences are their own fault.

Related post: Luck, Chance and All of That

The thing with optimists is that they are unfazed by defeat, they simply see it as a challenge and try harder next time. Pessimists on the other hand, give up more easily and are more often depressed.

So what’s wrong with being a pessimist?

You may be one of those people who actually need failure or bad luck to feel good about yourself. Why? Because then all that is happening is not your fault. You can blame circumstances for your situation and you don’t need to take responsibility for your own future.

So you are comfortable being helpless and nothing is your fault. Which means that you are likely to fail at anything you try to do because you believe that you control nothing!

Where does that leave you? Exactly where you are if you’re lucky, but you’re never lucky, remember?

Taking charge of your life and being in control of your career options is one great route to leaving the pessimist view behind. You can make use of your skills, be productive and earn money on

Related Link: Find jobs on (

The way you think about your life and your belief in your power to control an outcome can completely shape your future. Find out how to change your outlook in next week’s blog post: How to Unlearn ‘Learned Helplessness’.

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Take this quiz and let us know!

P.S. I’m an optimist 80% of the time 🙂

Luck, Chance and All of That.

By: Kathy Shalhoub


Don’t you hate those people who are so lucky they always get what they want? That job, a good deal on a car, the perfect spouse… they seem to have something that we mere mortals always come close to but somehow always miss.

Meanwhile, you’re the poor bugger who always picks the line that moves the slowest, gets overlooked for that promotion and finds a splash of ketchup on your shirt just as you’re headed in for an interview. You tell yourself you’re just not one of those lucky people.

Well, I think that’s bullshnozzle. I once heard that ‘Luck’ is simply a combination of preparedness and opportunity. I tend to agree.

Before you start arguing, let me make a little clarification. There’s luck, as defined above, and there’s chance. Chance is the probability of an event happening to you at any given time. So the chances of you getting a 6 when you throw a die (if you actually throw it!), is 1 in 6 and has nothing to do with luck. Absolutely nothing.

Luck on the other hand is you making a few really nice hand made samples of jewelry at home as well as an extensive design portfolio, whether you plan to sell them or not, and enthusiastically telling and showing everyone you know all about it. So when Joe let’s say, tells you his wife loves handmade jewelry (opportunity), you are happy to inform Joe that his wife is in ‘luck’ because you happen to have a very nice collection waiting for her at home (preparedness).

So now you’re selling your amazing jewelry to Joe’s wife, who needs no encouragement to tell all of her friends and her friend’s friends and you suddenly have a booming business doing something you love, you lucky bastard.

Your friend on the other hand, who also makes hand made jewelry, has been waiting for clients to place an order because she makes her jewelry on demand. But she’s shy to talk about her work and expects her website to bring her business. So even though she’s the better designer of the two of you, you’re the ‘lucky’ one and she thinks that she just has no luck.

So that lucky person who has it all, the deal, the car, the spouse, may have a certain amount of chance playing in their favor, as all of us do, but she may also be creating opportunities for herself, or be prepared to take opportunities that come her way.

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” –Mahatma Ghandi


Blogger’s Bio: Kathy studied engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has a PhD in Marine Sciences from the University of Paris. She is also a writer and published her first book, Life as a Leb-neh Lover, in 2010. Kathy is fascinated by matters of the mind, self discovery, self acceptance and personal development and is currently researching these topics. Check out her blog, ‘like’ her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @Lebneh_Lover.